About the course
The DPhil offered by this EPSRC funded Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Future Propulsion and Power provides graduates with the opportunity to develop in-depth knowledge, understanding and expertise in aircraft propulsion and gas turbines. This is a joint programme between the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Loughborough, together with leading engine manufacturers and partners in the field.
In the first year, all students study for a master’s degree in Future Propulsion and Power at the University of Cambridge. In years two to four, Oxford's students will undertake industrially-focussed projects at the Oxford Thermofluids Institute – also known as Osney Laboratory - in the Department of Engineering Science.
Year one is oriented towards developing your knowledge base. Along with CDT students from Cambridge and Loughborough, you will register and study for an MRes degree in Future Propulsion and Power at the University of Cambridge. The course involves taught lectures and laboratory modules, along with several mini projects of two to three weeks each undertaken at the three partner universities and at some of the sites of the industrial partners. These are precursors to your DPhil study, to hone your research skills and shape your main research area. You will meet your supervisor regularly to assess progress and discuss academic issues.
Years two to four see an increasing emphasis on individual research. Oxford's students register for the degree of DPhil and carry out a research project at the Oxford Thermofluids Institute, an internationally-recognised centre for research in Gas Turbine Heat Transfer and Aerodynamics, and part of Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science. You will benefit from the network of leading experts in the field, and develop a portfolio of academic, laboratory and career-oriented skills. Throughout of the research project, close interaction with an industrial partner is expected. In addition, the full cohort meets regularly for CDT seminars and workshop events.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Department of Engineering Science, in conjunction with the University of Cambridge, and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Department of Engineering Science.
You will join your supervisor's research group which normally has post-doctoral researchers and other research students working on broadly similar research themes. Typically you would interact daily with members of the group and have weekly contact with your supervisor. Many groups have weekly meetings where members discuss their research or perhaps present other published work.
You will be assessed continually throughout the first year at Cambridge during courses and projects, and will be formally examined in your MRes programme. At the end of your second year in Oxford, you will be required to write a report and give a presentation on your research, and to present a detailed and coherent plan for the research-intensive phase in the third and fourth years of your doctoral studies. Progress towards completion is again formally assessed some way into the final year of study.
For the DPhil, you will be required to submit a substantial thesis that will be read and examined by experts in the field, one from the Department and one from elsewhere. Often the thesis will result in the publication of several journal and conference papers.
It is expected that the in-depth training and exposure to research problems of vital interest to industrial partners in the CDT in Future Propulsion and Power, along with the progressive increase in responsibility and external exposure, will make graduates from the CDT well equipped for leadership roles in industry, both nationally and internationally.
Others may wish to continue to spend time in post-doctoral research, probably further developing the work in their theses towards commercial application.
Changes to this course and your supervision
The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.
Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
Other courses you may wish to consider
If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.
All graduate courses offered by the Department of Engineering Science
Entry requirements for entry in 2022-23
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours, usually in engineering with some specialisation in fluid mechanics and thermodynamics.
Candidates with undergraduate degrees from related fields will also be considered.
A previous master's qualification is not required.
Note that each candidate will need to get accepted by both Oxford (for the DPhil) and Cambridge (for the MRes). Although you will start the CDT program in year one at Cambridge, your admission to the MRes at Cambridge will be conditional on your already holding a conditional offer of a DPhil place at Oxford for years two to four.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.
If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
GRE General Test scores
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
- Entry into the CDT programme is competitive and will take account of academic qualifications, performance and aspirations.
- Publications are not required.
If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.
English language requirement
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
†Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Interviews (in person or by other means) may form part of the admissions process.
Any offer of a place is dependent on the University’s ability to provide the appropriate supervision for your chosen area of work. Please refer to the ‘About’ section of this page for more information about the provision of supervision for this course.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on academic merit and potential, according to the published entry requirements for the course. The After you apply section of this website provides further information about the academic assessment of your application, including the potential outcomes. Please note that any offer of a place may be subject to academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions may vary depending upon your individual academic circumstances.
Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background. Whether you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
Admissions panels and assessors
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
After an offer is made
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer letter will give full details of your offer and any academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will be required to meet the following requirements:
If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.
Disclosure of criminal convictions
In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.
Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)
Some postgraduate research students in science, engineering and technology subjects will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate prior to applying for a Tier 4 visa. Further information can be found on our Tier 4 (General) Student visa page. For some courses, the requirement to apply for an ATAS certificate may depend on your research area.
The CDT is resourced by the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and is jointly hosted by the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Loughborough.
Oxford students will spend the first year as members of the Department of Engineering in Cambridge and years two to four in Oxford. At Oxford, engineering research and teaching takes place in a unified Department of Engineering Science with over 100 academic staff who are committed to advanced work in their own specialities, while recognising a common engineering foundation. This creates an intellectual space where interdisciplinary work thrives, and where expert advice is available to students in areas which though not central to their core research still impinge on it.
The department occupies some 16,000 square metres, and has well-equipped research areas and workshops, as well as offices, lecture theatres, library, common room, stores, reprographics and other facilities. The department has around 350 research students and about 200 postdoctoral researchers and research fellows. Direct funding of research grants and contracts, from a variety of sources, amounts to an annual turnover of approximately £25m, in addition to general turnover of about £26m.
The key research area for the CDT is Thermofluids and Turbomachinery, which takes in the Osney Thermofluids Laboratory, located in a facility to the west of the city called the Southwell Building. The laboratory was opened by Oxford's Vice Chancellor in 2010 as part of the University's strategic investment in the nation's science base. The lab houses some of the most sophisticated turbine and high speed flow facilities in the UK, and the research group includes internationally recognised experts in CFD, flow and heat transfer experiments and instrumentation. The lab is outstandingly supported by highly experienced technical, computing and administrative staff.
The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2022-23. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential.
For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources. Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2022-23
Students admitted by the University of Oxford are enrolled on the MRes in Future Propulsion and Power at the University of Cambridge for their first academic year. During that year you will be liable for fees at the University of Cambridge and will be charged fees by that University at their fee rates.
Subject to meeting the progression criteria, you will then be enrolled by the University of Oxford and will be liable for a further 9 terms of course fees at the University. During each subsequent year, you will be charged course fees at Oxford's fee rate for that year of study. For an indication of costs, the table below shows the estimated annual course fees for the second academic year of this course.
Estimated annual fees for the 2023-24 academic year at Oxford
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.
Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.
Following the period of fee liability, you may also be required to pay a University continuation charge and a college continuation charge. The University and college continuation charges are shown on the Continuation charges page.
There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees (or, after fee liability ends, continuation charges) and living costs. However, please note that, depending on your choice of research topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.
In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2022-23 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,215 and £1,755 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our living costs page. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2022-23, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.
Please consult the University of Cambridge website for further information about living costs while studying at that institution.
All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford, as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs).
For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges.
The following colleges accept students on the Future Propulsion and Power CDT:
How to apply
If you would like to discuss your research proposal and potential supervisors, please familiarise yourself with the Future Propulsion and Power website and then contact the CDT Director, Professor Ireland.
Before you apply, please refer to the list of research group leaders to identify areas of research that interest you. You should then make contact with the potential supervisor(s) in the department to discuss the possibility of joining the research group, as well as research projects that you could undertake.
Once decided, you should name up to three potential supervisors on the application form.
The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:
Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.
More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.
A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.
Statement of purpose/personal statement:
A minimum of 1,000 up to a maximum of 1,500 words
Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for:
- your past commitment to sustained and intense study and your reasons for wishing to undertake research
- evidence of interest in, and experience and understanding of, the proposed area of study
- the originality of the proposed research
- the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available
- your ability to present a reasoned and coherent case in English.
Your statement should focus on your research ambitions in engineering, rather than on personal achievements, interests and aspirations.
References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, of which at least one must be academic
Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.
Professional references are welcomed, but these must be obtained from your line manager (or equivalent). At least one academic reference must be provided.
Your references will support your intellectual ability, academic achievement and potential, motivation, creativity, and ability to work singly and in a group.
Start or continue an application
Step 1: Read our guide to getting started, which explains how to prepare for and start an application.
Step 2: Check that you meet the Entry requirements and read the How to apply information on this page.
Step 3: Check the deadlines on this page and the deadline information in our Application Guide. Plan your time to submit your application well in advance - we recommend two or three weeks earlier.
Step 4: Check if you're eligible for an application fee waiver. Application fee waivers are available for:
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds who meet the eligibility criteria;
- residents in a country on our low-income countries list (refer to the eligibility criteria);
- current Oxford graduate taught students applying for readmission to an eligible course; and
- additional applications to selected research courses that are closely related to your first application.
Step 5: Start your application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, consult our Application Guide for advice at each stage. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.